Saturday, September 21, 2013

She Gods of Shark Reef (1958)

Who's in it?: Don Durant (Johnny Ringo), Lisa Montell (World Without End), and Bill Cord (who pretty much just did this and some TV work).

What's it about?: A former Navy man (Cord) helps his gunrunning brother (Durant) escape the law in the South Pacific, but the two of them are stranded on a tropical island inhabited solely by women. Unfortunately, the local shark god may not be to happy about their arrival.

How is it?: I've been eager to see this one from the title alone, but sadly - though not surprisingly - Roger Corman's film doesn't live up to its potential. Corman often had great ideas, but his breakneck speed and lack of money always meant slapping them together as clumsily as possible.

That said, I didn't hate it, which is again not surprising. With Corman films I'm used to looking past the shoddy production to the story at its core and I usually like what I find. That means that I'm imaging a much better movie than the one that I'm watching - an exercise that likely doesn't work for everyone - but it's how I relate to Corman's stuff and it works for me.

With She Gods, there's some nice drama between the two brothers and the island women. Chris is the good brother who comes to the rescue of his criminal sibling, Lee, out of loyalty. The difference between their worldviews creates tension, especially when they learn that the island women are pearl divers. And then, to complicate matters more, Chris falls in love with one of them, Mahia (Montell).

None of this is groundbreaking storytelling, but it's a classic plot and though the movie has many flaws, the actors are competent and the setting is interesting. Faint praise, I know, but what I'm saying is that She Gods of Shark Reef - while undeserving of its awesome title - is a pleasant-enough amusement that wins extra points from me with its tropical island location and an at least functional plot.

Grade: C+


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

You're not kidding about Corman having working ideas but no budget. Every time I see a big budget remake like Robocop or Total Recall I keep thinking. "No, just go to Corman's catalog, find a premise and build on that!"

Good poster though, I think this one was by Reynold Brown.

Michael May said...

If I was a movie producer, I'd make at least one film a year that did exactly that. I'm with you: THOSE are the movies ripe for remakes.


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